Welcome to Quarantine 15: a spot of joy in your inbox on work, life, and navigating the start of 2021. In case we haven’t met, I’m Nikki Gusz, a co-founder of Lloyd, a career GPS for young professionals. You can follow me on Twitter @nkgusz or subscribe to this email newsletter here.
Today, around here you’ll find:
(1) A little reflection on the week
(2) A conversation
(3) A treat from me
(1) A little reflection on the week
My first fulltime job was as a K-12 teacher. I’m confident a decade later it is still one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs I'll have in my career. People would come up to me in public and thank me—especially as a middle school teacher, since this age (I think unfairly!) can get a bad reputation. Hence, one of my questions to our interviewee this week includes this piece, plus so much more teachers are navigating these days to support and educate students. Almost everyone can recall a teacher—by name—who impacted them significantly. It’s hard to think of another profession where this is the case. If you still know that teacher, say hi. Or, tell another teacher you know how much you value their work (and then work to pay them more, too!)
(2) A conversation
This week, I’m chatting with Andrew Loh. Andrew is a first-generation college student from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, passionate about creative expression, social enterprise, healthy living, and the youth of the future. Entering the workforce as a middle school teacher through Teach For America, his current role, he likes to use his downtime to entertain ways to better himself and his community, whether that be in the form of fellowship, personal projects, writing, reading, or fitness. With a passion for business, social impact, and technology, he looks toward building and reinforcing sustainable models for change. He was also a Lloyd Intern!
You’re teaching middle school. To remote AND in-person students simultaneously. During a pandemic! What do you think people might not know about this experience that you’ve found striking?
Teaching children how to stay motivated and hold themselves accountable for their learning requires a lot more creativity and thinking on your feet, especially when you are trying to balance working with the kids in the classroom and those tuning in from home at the same time! While we teachers have lost the privilege of physical proximity, we also have gained the asset of private messaging on Zoom. What this school year has emphasized is the importance of relationships in people's work—when you can establish trust and a rapport, the learning can still happen.
While working as an intern with Lloyd, you completed informal and insightful straw polls about what words like “career” mean to people. What did you find?
Most of the people I connected with were finishing college or a few years into their career. I gathered my information through social media by asking about words that people would use to describe how they felt / what they though about careers. They fell into 3 buckets:
1) Positive: words like driven, passion, growth, job security, dream, fulfillment, etc. Career meant something more than a means of financial sustainability.
2) Stress: words like stressful, uncertainty, hesitation, routine, pressure, daunting anxiety. People my age feel American work culture permeated into our lives to the point where people don’t have home / work life balance.
3) Both: some answered with words in both categories. Careers aren’t black and white, and the unwritten journey can be viewed in one of two ways, about how you want to approach it. They acknowledge the fact that people are not 100% positive or negative about the word, and there is space in everyone’s life to have mentors / advisors along the way.
What did you learn about careers working with Lloyd?
There can be pipelines into certain fields / roles, and trying to differentiate it can be a competitive process, but it is also collaborative. There are many opportunities to give back, when you want to put on collaborative vs. a competitive hat. There is space to innovate! To help people make career decisions, we are often not the first ones to go through career decisions. We might be the first to experience a personal situation, but there are people who have experiences that may have felt the same way at some point—deciding on further school, like law school, MBA, etc. I knew that before, and the way Lloyd is tackling the problem is a systematic way, a way that is potentially going to impact countless people.
You’ve had the unique experience of working for your family’s 3rd generation grocery business and also Lloyd, a company that was only a few months old. What are your thoughts on these experiences?
The grocery story is older than me! It has been in operation for 35 years. Having that as my support growing up literally put food on the table and put me through college, our family centers on that. It has grown to a size that is fairly large; it’s not a tiny business. I have seen ways relationships in family develop over time, trying to balance when is it time to work and when it’s time to enjoy one another's presence as aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. For example, Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday for us. Even on Chinese New Year, which is meant to be happy, it can be stressful at our store. We are part of a community, where tens of thousands of the population has been displaced and now the store serves almost as a home away from home for the community. While the grocery is more established, it is still scrappy. This is something it shares with Lloyd, being a startup.
What do you think people should know about Lloyd?
It’s a brother and a sister team! That hit home for me—they are so passionate about helping people. They put their time, resources, and brain power into helping other people make difficult decisions. Lloyd is about helping people. Just seeing how the team interacts made me think about how I continue to work alongside my three sisters. I might hit you up for tips on separating family from professional life!
How has Lloyd impacted your career?
Lloyd has been a great opportunity for me to take a look at a work-life balance in a time that was both extremely uncertain and novel, as the pandemic had just been declared (last spring). Being at a startup, I could take initiative and be creative—from customer discovery to sales / marketing strategies, leaning into the new world we were working in. I tried to look for opportunities, to see how we could help people. Lloyd is always seeking ways to balance impacting lives while also doing so in a sustainable way.